24 February 2017

Zambia's Disaster Management Unit Is Itself a Disaster

opinion

It is surprising that a country which has struggled with a good rainfall pattern, can fail to prepare for the blessing its people have been praying for. A certain leader even mocked the opposition to urinate in the Kariba Dam, so that the water levels can improve.

Ironically, Zambia has been blessed with a good rainfall pattern this year, but the poor drainage system and weak infrastructure is turning this into a nightmare for the majority its people.

A few weeks ago, parts of Southern Province was cut off from the rest of the country after a heavy downpour washed away a portion of the main road. This week parts of Lusaka have not been spared from the floods.

What is surprising, if not disappointing, is that a combined team of the Disaster Management Unit in the Office of the Vice President and the Lusaka City Council, will take more than 48 hours to clear small flooded areas.

If the Disaster Management Unit can struggle with a terrain in a prime area such as Mass Media, what confidence can they give Zambians about the capacity to handle similar situations in townships.

Assuming the Blue Water dam in Chawama, or the Ngwenya dam in Misisi, or indeed the eight sewer dams in Garden compund were to overflow, what will this unit do. Will our people survive? Based on what we are seeing on Thabo Mbeki and Mass Media, the Disaster Unit is not giving any hope.

The casual manner with which the Disaster Management Unit is handling basic challenges smacks levels of serious incompetence. It makes us wonder why we should even have such a unit under the Vice-President's office.

This kind of incompetence is an embarrassment to the Office of the Vice President. If there is a place where this unit can flex its muscles and justify its relevance, it should be in an area such as Mass Media.

This is an area that houses the National Assembly motel where all the 150 plus MPs find pleasure to relax. It therefore means they are alive to the circumstances. This is also the area that houses three national media institutions.

ZNBC, Radio Christian Voice and Muvi TV are all located in the Mass Media area. Seeing the Disaster Management Unit struggle to be on top of the situation is really sad, to say the least.

In 2015, then PF General Secretary Davies Chama said, "We didn't project that [poor rainfall], because rainfall is given by God, regardless of whichever President is there. If there is a drought, there is absolutely nothing you can do. There is absolutely nothing President [Edgar] Lungu can do about the drought when God says, 'You are not going to have enough rainfall even this season 2015'.

"We are all worried [about the drought]. I have planted already myself and I am worried that the maize may germinate and may die. These satanists, people who pray to the devil have shut the heavens. That's why it's incumbent upon us Christians to be prayerful, to pray for our country. President Lungu is even sleeping at 01:00 hours. He doesn't even go for lunch, just to make sure he addresses the challenges that have bestowed the country and the government is on top of things, even things we never planned for."

The people prayed and God heard. He opened the gates of heaven to prove to Chama that incompetence can't be blamed on nature. Are our leaders going to complain about the rain, that its too much, when in fact it's our poor drainage system that is causing the floods?

If such units as the Disaster Management are not capable of handling situations they are created to take care of, they have no reason to exist and should be disbanded.

Zambia

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